A vacuum cleaner doesn’t have to be robotic for us to review it. In this case, the Gtech AirRam caught our eye with its activity-tracking, USB-equipped rechargeable battery that lets you see how much electricity you’re using or calories you’re burning. Those features aren’t quite enough to sell us on the $349.95 (direct) upright vacuum alone, but its admirable combination of power and portability make it appealing if you have the cash. It’s light and cordless, and can still pick up a good amount of dust and dirt from the carpet.
The AirRam is very slight for an upright vacuum cleaner. It doesn’t have a bag or a canister, instead collecting everything it sucks up in a compartment on its main body. The neck of the vacuum consists only of the battery compartment, the power switch above the battery compartment, a small carrying handle, and a larger, comfortable handle on top for holding while using the AirRam. The whole device weighs just 7.7 pounds, making it very easy to carry anywhere. And since it’s bagless and has a low, 3.8-inch profile, it can easily get under crevasses.
The neck connects to the body of the vacuum at a large silver-colored bar that tilts back when you pull it with your foot. It might seem strange compared to the more conventional levers and pedals on other upright vacuums that let them tilt, but it’s easier to use. When the vacuum tilts and is running, the joint between the neck and the body pivot, letting you steer and turn in much tighter corners than more conventional vacuums.
An included USB cable transfers data from the battery pack to your computer with Gtech’s free software. It’s a very simple program; it lets you switch between Eco, Standard, and High-Power modes that offer increasing power by sacrificing battery life, see how much time is left on the battery, and keep track of how many watts you’ve consumed and calorizes you’ve burned. The AirRam is light enough that vacuuming probably won’t offer you much of a workout, but every calorie helps.
We don’t test many vacuums, but the AirRam seemed to handle the dirt in my editor’s disgusting, filthy office with ease. [You know that your editor is reading this, right? – Ed.] The pivoting neck made navigating tight corners around desks much simpler than with more conventional, straight-wheeled upright vacuums, and it picked up the schmutz on the floor and kept it in its dust compartment without issue. It also picked up crushed Wheat Thins off the carpet of our office’s news bullpen easily, though it tended to push a few larger pieces back instead of picking them up when I pulled back on the vacuum. It isn’t quite as good as simpler upright vacuums at picking up larger objects, so if you drop things like paper clips or bits of plastic on the carpet, you might have to go over it a few times or get on your knees and pick them up yourself. Still, this is admirable performance for a cordless vacuum cleaner; most cordless “stick” vacuums require a few passes to get dirt and dust up, and have an even harder time with larger objects.
Battery life is approximately 40 minutes on High-Power mode or an hour on Eco mode with a four-hour charge, offering enough time to vacuum several rooms in your home. The battery has a four-bar green LED display to show how much energy is left, and I didn’t see the battery tick down past three bars when testing the vacuum in our lab.
The Gtech AirRam is a light, handy vacuum that offers the functionality of an upright and some interesting technology tricks beyond its rechargeable battery. Its big appeal is in how easy it is to use, rather than seeing how many calories you’re burning or electricity you’re using. The AirRam isn’t quite as powerful as corded upright vacuums or nearly as inexpensive as cordless stick vacuums, but it strikes the right combination of power and convenience. You’ll find yourself grumbling about tidying up much, much less when taking out the AirRam than with larger, corded or smaller, weaker vacuums.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc